Cold Weather: Custard Soup

2 old men eating soup

Two Old Men Eating Soup, 1819–23, by Francisco de Goya, currently in the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

Custard soup is a mixture of egg and broth or an egg-and-dairy mixture. They are different from poached egg soups in that the eggs are incorporated into the recipe, rather than sitting on the side as in a poached egg soup or being stirred into the soup to form the long ribbons of egg-flower-style soup. The eggs give a creamy thickness to the soup, but they are fragile. Eggs cooked in this way are notoriously unstable: They can cook too fast or too long and become lumpy or granular. Some recipes leave out the egg whites, because without them, the yolks are easier to cook without the risk of granular blobs. But even yolks alone should be carefully tended and not overcooked.

They are easier cooked in a double boiler so that temperature can be controlled better. This is a soup that you should hover over and stir, which is nice on a cold winter day. (For me, any excuse to hang out where it is warm is a plus.)

Custard soup is hearty, and satisfying. It’s perfect to sooth a sore throat. The turmeric not only gives a hint of color, and a pleasant taste, but is a health booster).

Custard Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 pinch baking soda
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 quart milk
6 eggs
¼ cup finely minced onion
1 chicken bouillon cube
ground nutmeg for garnish

In double boiler, melt butter, add flour, and make smooth roux. Add white pepper, turmeric, nutmeg, and pinch of baking soda. In bowl combine eggs and milk, and beat well. Pour into double boiler along with minced onion and bouillon cube. Stir constantly, and heat until smooth and creamy.

Serve in small soup cups, and garnish with small amount of ground nutmeg. Serve immediately.

Variations:
1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
or, 1 teaspoon Madras Curry Powder
or, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and 2 teaspoons lemon juice.

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